Guilty pleasures. Most of us have them.
But what makes a pleasure ‘guilty’?
A pleasure is something we enjoy doing, something we look forward to. Something that makes us, us.
A pleasure becomes guilty because it is something we think we shouldn’t be doing – often because it’s perceived as ‘uncool’.
Back when I was 12, my best friend at the time and I spent a happy afternoon playing with my collection of Barbies. The Barbies all had their hair done, and were styled in immaculate outfits. While my friend and I enjoyed our afternoon, we swore each other to secrecy: under no circumstances were we to reveal our guilty pleasure to anyone else at school. At the grand old age of 12, we were supposed to be long past playing with Barbies!
At that age, with school and peer pressure paramount, not being open about what I enjoyed doing is kind of understandable.
But as a grown-up? Not so much. We are all individual, and, in theory, should be beyond what people think of what we enjoy doing (provided it’s legal, doesn’t hurt anyone, and involves consenting adults – and all other relevant caveats).
I started to think about guilty pleasures when listening to the radio. Barry Manilow’s Copacabana came on – I smiled and sang along. I tweeted the radio station to say thank you for the guilty pleasure – but afterwards thought why on earth should I feel guilty about it? I enjoyed it, and it made me smile. I really don’t care who knows that I sang along to Barry Manilow (obviously, I wouldn’t be putting it on the interweb otherwise!).
Likewise I don’t care that people know about something else previously known as a guilty pleasure. Watching Neighbours is now known simply as a pleasure. Before I went on maternity leave, on returning home from work I would sit down with a cup of tea and watch some Australian antics. When the closing credits came on – and only then – was Martin permitted to talk to me. Erinsborough’s finest helped me unwind. An Australian soap opera and an English cup of tea – I found the perfect blend (sorry!).
Chocolate and wine also feature on my list of pleasures. They may find themselves on the ‘guilty’ list because while delicious, they are not good for my waistline or my insides. Well, experts have said that chocolate and red wine (my favourite) can be good for you (in moderation; that pesky word is very subjective!). Indulging in a bar of chocolate and sharing a bottle of wine with my other half makes me feel happy, and provided I don’t overdo it what is there to feel guilty about?
Other guilty pleasures include indulging in a bit of online shopping – for shoes, say, or a new dress. Window shopping, whether real or virtual, can brighten our day – as can indulging in buying something.
I suppose the ‘guilty’ part comes in to play with clothes shopping when we have several dresses or pairs of shoes in our wardrobe that (ahem) have rarely, if ever, seen the light of day. We would also feel guilty when we have spent money we should have saved, didn’t really have, or should have spent on something ‘sensible’ and less frivolous.
What’s the solution to shopping guilt? Umm…when you find out, please let me know!
In seriousness, consumerism doesn’t make anything better, and if you don’t have the money can make things much worse. That said, if a little bit of what you fancy helps put a smile on your face and a spring in your step, go for it.
Life is too short to care about what anyone else thinks of how you choose to spend your time, your money, what you are interested in, and what makes you happy.
Enjoy your pleasures. Indulge. Celebrate your individuality. It’s what makes the world interesting!
We have so many things in life to feel bad about. Why not remove the guilt from your pleasures and revel in what brings a bit of joy to your life?